Thriving Mindfully

Tag: Life

Why your new year resolution should start today

This might catch you off guard.

It might feel that I’m posting something three weeks too soon.
It is not time to talk about new year resolutions yet, you’d say.

Be patient and hear me out on this one.

I’ve been trying to form positive habits for the past few years. After constant experimentation and many failures, I learnt about the two key elements that determine whether a positive habit will stick or not.

They are –

A) Consistency

B) Momentum

Now, we are all aware of how most new year resolutions fizzle out by the second week of January.

An obvious reasons is because we move into the new year with no momentum at all.

You can’t start going to gym every single day in a new year if you’re picking up from a week of partying towards the end of the year.
You’re just expecting yourself to start running before learning to crawl.

In my opinion, one needs to start the new year with momentum.
A momentum that starts to build at least three weeks before the new year.

Why three weeks?

Well, it is a well researched fact that I can attest with my own experience that it takes at least 21 days of consistent effort to form a new habit.

Whatever your new year resolution might be, if you start working on it from tomorrow, you’ll have 21 days to be consistent and build momentum so that you are already well primed for the changes you want to bring into your life next year.

This might have caught you off guard and you might not have even thought of a resolution yet.
But it’s a Sunday, and a good day to relax, reflect, and resolve what you’d like to improve on.

Once you decide on your resolution, start tomorrow. I am positive that the habit will stick in the new year if you stay consistent and build momentum for these 21 days in December.

This is the cheat code.
A headstart.

Are you in the game?

On the paradox in wishing for a long life

Who doesn’t want to live a long life !
Everyone wishes for as many trips around the sun as possible in their lifetime.
In India, when elders bless younger people, they usually pray for them to have a life lasting aeons.

But what exactly does more years in one’s life add to?
Does more years translate to more meaning?
Does it also not imply a longer old age full of decay and suffering?

I feel that we should reimagine our conception of a lifetime.

How about thinking of age in terms of time and not years.

Let me explain what I mean by this.

Remember Eisntein, the fuzzy haired genius?
Once, one of his students asked him to explain the concept of relativity in simple language.

Here’s what Eisntein said,

‘When you sit with a nice girl for two hours, you think it’s only a minute,
But when you sit on a hot stove for a minute, you think it’s two hours.
That’s relativity.’

Such elegant simplification!
The jest of a genius.

The way we sense our time on this beautiful blue dot is also a function of relativity.
A life full of unwise choices can seem to be an agonisingly long drag.
Just like a macrocosm of a boring lecture in college. An abyss with no apparent end.

On the other hand, a life full of wise choices, purpose and meaning would feel like a breeze.
A macrocosm of an hour with your favourite playmate when you were a toddler.
You never realised when time passed, since you were so involved in enjoying each moment, weren’t you?

But here lies the paradox.

The inherent paradox in our wish is that we want a long and meaningful life.
Because long and meaningful don’t go together.

If you are living a meaningful life, then life would pass so easily that you never realise when the years flew by, just like hours fly by when you’re with someone you love.
Life would seem to have finished in a moment.

But if you feel that life is long, it just means that life is seeming long to you, maybe because for you, it isn’t so much fun to be alive !
For if you truly enjoy something, time would feel to have passed in a jiffy !

It is best to live in terms of time and not years.

Rather than wishing for a long life, we should wish for a life that just passes by, for it would mean that we truly enjoyed each moment in it.

And the best way to get that experience is by being in love,
With life itself.

Clocks and calendars aside,
I wish you a meaningful life.

What else does one need in life after all !

How we are all equally rich

Over the past few months, I’ve had the fortune of travelling in three different countries. While most of my commute during the travel was on my bicycle, I also had the chance to use other modes of transport. I’ve loaded up my bicycle on trains, boats, buses and aeroplanes a few times over.

While using these other modes of transport, I’ve had the chance to observe my fellow travellers.
One thing that I found to be common among all travellers, regardless of their nationality or economic background is the humble lock they all put on their luggage.

It could be a number combination padlock, a tiny lock with a key, an airplane baggage lock tag or even just two zippers secured with a nylon string.

It does not matter if it is a high end briefcase or a tattered backpack, the owners prize the contents inside their bags equally.

For a poor woman travelling back to her village in a bus with her infant children,
The few hundred rupees she’s hidden in her bag and the measly ration of milk for the children to last on the ride is worth securing with a little lock.
To an executive travelling business class, whose briefcase is a thousand times more expensive than everything the village lady has ever owned, the bag mandates even getting a travel insurance!

But once we think beyond the monetary value of the bag and its contents, and think about the absolute value each human being attributes to their belongings,
Is the tattered bag of the village lady any less valuable than the executive’s briefcase?

Extrapolating further, think about the infants in tow of the village lady and the little children of the businessman waiting for him back home.

Is the life of one child more precious than another? Granted they have separate realities of life and in comparison have a completely different future ahead of them.
Yet, they both mean the world to either parent, don’t they?

We are all born with different privileges.
But some things are tendered equally to one and all.
We all have the ability to love,
The ability to be of help,
The ability to smile,
The ability to bring a life on earth…

All of the perceived unfairness of life is mitigated by the solemn realisation of these inherent gifts we are all have the liberty to partake.

The most precious of gifts can never be locked and secured.
It is the gift of life,
Of existence,
The time we have on earth.

A person who doesn’t know how to read the time on the clock is in fact, as rich as a person wearing an expensive watch when it comes to the time he has on the earth.

Perhaps the moment we start to live life with this realisation, in each living moment,
Each living soul will feel equally rich.

As the gift of existence,
Of time on earth,
Enables democracy over happiness to each living soul.

One of my favourite authors wrote a masterpiece of a novel when he was in Jail. Even the locks of the prison chamber had no power over the gift of existence he utilised to create a work of sublime art.
He used his freedom over time even in incarceration to add meaning to his life.

Time is the yarn we are all gifted by life,
And at each moment we are alive,
We are weaving our story,
In the tapestry of existence.

Let’s realise this gift,
And live a life full of purpose and meaning.



The Buddha’s Sermon

Yesterday I went for a little hike up a hill in Chiang Mai. There is a nicely paved road leading all the way uphill to the sacred Temple ‘Wat Phra That Doi Suthep’
It’s a steep road with many bends and corners.

I chose to hike up about half the way to a temple called ‘Wat Pha Lad’ on the trail. It used to be the temple where monks would stop to rest in olden times as they hiked to the main temple uphill.
Slowly and steadily, walking afoot, I made my way to the temple.
On the road, just before the temple, there was a little shrine with a statue of the Buddha inside it.
I wondered why there was this little shrine on the road just before a major temple that stood a bit further from the road, inside the forest.
I looked into the eyes of the Buddha’s statue and prayed for the strength to find my own truth.

After visiting the breathtaking temple nestled in the forest, I started walking downhill, back home. I passed by the little shrine again. After being mesmerised by the ethereal beauty of the temple in the jungle, I wondered again, why this little shrine stands here after all!
And I continued on.

Today, I decided to cycle all the way uphill to ‘Wat Phra That Doi Suthep’. Within one kilometer of cycling I understood what I had gotten myself into.
The steep incline was going to last for 11 kilometers until I reached the temple. The weather was getting stormy by the second. I gasped deeper and deeper for breaths as my heart rate jumped to twice the normal. Drenched in sweat, I pedalled on in the lowest gear, heaving and panting constantly.
About half way up, thick black clouds started to condnese into raindrops. Huge blobs of water started hitting me like torpedoes.
I got a bit worried since I was going uphill and there was a forest all round me.
I could turn back and race downhill to save myself from getting drenched. But I wanted to go all the way up.
I was determined.
I saw a signboard at a distance as I approached it at an easy pace. In moments I could read what it said,
‘Wat Pha Lad 500 meters ahead’

I heaved a sigh, this time of relief.
I pedalled on quickly to reach the little shrine just ahead of the temple I’d been to yesterday.
I parked my bike and took all my stuff inside the shrine to find shelter.
The downpour lasted for half an hour.
In the meantime, I just sat in front of the Buddha’s statue. I saw what I failed to see yesterday. There was a roof on Buddha’s little shrine!
And it saved me from getting caught in heavy rain.

I tried to remember if there were any roofs in the magnificent forest temple I was so mesmerised by yesterday.
I couldn’t remember any.

Grateful for the roof, I understood why there are small shrines leading to all big temples.
I looked intointo Buddha’s eyes on the statue,
And he told me,
‘I am here only to remind you to pray.
Not to me.
But just to pray.’

‘When you face adversity as you undertake a big challenge,
Your prayers will manifest into the shelter you need to keep you going.’

After two hours of cycling uphill, I finally reached the main temple ‘Wat Phra That Doi Suthep’
On my way back downhill,
speeding past the little shrine,
I smiled,
And prayed.

And in my mind,
Full of belief,
I am ready for the next challenge,
The next ride,

Re-imagining a lifetime

We often have a feeling that life is too short. Especially when we look back at it and realise time passed so fast. Part of the reason being that we do not do things that are remarkable on a daily basis. Daily life is quite mundane. And the culmination of days amounts to our life so it doesn’t surprise that we don’t remember much of how we spent our life.

If we shrink the time frame of what we call as life, things could be different.
What if each day was seen as a lifetime. Would you be able to waste a day?
If we live with the tacit assumption that we are going to live forever, we would hardly get anything remarkable done.
Yet if we live our life in clear awareness of our fragile existence,
And try to live each day as an opportunity to lead a remarkable life,
Life would seem much more fulfilling.

And we would achieve quite a lot in the process.
What do you think ?

Learning to Unlearn

‘Don’t strain your body, let it loose’ commanded my swimming instructor.
I gasped for a breath after another failed attempt at floating in water. The sun shone brightly on the disappointed trainer’s face.
‘Try again’ he said in anguish.

Swimming is one of the life skills I did not get an opportunity to learn as a kid. Battling my phobia of water, I finally convinced myself to learn to swim. It was the third day at class and my instructor couldn’t believe how stiff my body was under water.
‘ Why are you so stiff? And why can’t you hold your breath for longer? Even a ten year old kid can do this!’ he said.
I didn’t have much to explain. I kept trying for the rest of the session.

Once I got out of the water, I started thinking about what happened during the training. I kept wondering about the comment he made about how even a ten year old kid could do what he was asking me to.
While I was a bit worked up after hearing that, over time a sense of calm dawned on me. I realised that accidentally the trainer had given me a great sermon.

We always associate progress with growing up. We always envision to be the best version of ourselves in future. But I realised that it is a partial perspective. Progress should be associated as much with growing up to maturity as with preserving the childlike elasticity of thought and action. The innate wisdom of body and mind programmed in kids is often unlearned as we age. Our body and mind grow up to an ‘acquired stiffness.’
The pursuit of true growth should be aimed in both directions, as much in ‘unlearning’ as in learning.
As a 27 year old, I aspire to have the maturity of 45 old man as I age while preserving the elasticity of being in a 10 year old boy.
That combination would make for a complete human in my opinion.
So now as I prepare myself for my next attempt at floating, I will focus on unlearning, to grow past my acquired stiffness.
In sincere pursuit of having a nimble body and mind of a ten year old boy.


Tonight I saw two boys on a crossroad. One in a car, One on the street.
The boy on the street had many colorful balloons yet he wore a gloomy look on his face. While the boy in the car had just one balloon and was happy, momentarily.

The balloon seller boy has seen life from much closer. The weight of these light, polka dotted helium balloons crushed his childhood. While it buoys the childhood of a privileged kid.

But the privileged kid is not happy with one balloon anymore. He wants all the balloons!

Only if he knew, how heavy the burden of having all these unsold balloons at night was.